Katy’s Sprog Rock Diary

29 September 2017

Katy Wilson

Hi! It’s Katy here from Sprog Rock. This is a sort of diary blog so you can hear what we are up to this autumn. 

A wee bit of background first – Sprog Rock was born at Tramway in 2010 – I was artist in residence there, experimenting with new arts experiences for children under 5 and their parents. It was my dream job . . . I got to work with amazing artists to make surprising, unexpected light and sound installations, performances, gigs – and a mix of all three. 

We wanted to make a gig which felt much like an adult gig, but was suitable for little children, and our mission was to find out what music kids really like. We had our suspicions that there was a need for more live music with a bit of attitude, with exciting instruments, professional musicians – basically the same as what a lot of adults want, creating an experience in which all ages are genuinely enjoying themselves at the same time. I’m a definite believer that if something is good . . . it’s good . . . it often doesn’t matter what age you are.

These gigs at Tramway were so successful – toddlers queuing for miles outside Tramway, babies taking their first steps just to get to the Box Office, spitting out their dummies, grabbing the mics – exchanging their teddies for electric guitars and getting to watch their adults smiling, singing, sometimes dancing and having a brilliant time.

We played them a diverse range of music – hip hop, electro, rock, folk, soul, classical, pop. Over the next 5 years we kept developing, playing gigs around Scotland, re-inventing (often by speaking to kids – see the board meeting image below with 4 year olds) and forming a core band made up of professional musicians (from bands in Glasgow and  Edinburgh) and performers – artists with real skills in play, and rapport with young children and audiences. 

They are an absolute dream team.

About a year ago my 4 year old son and his friends came back from nursery in full glam rock make-up, their eyes sparkling with delight. All the parents were thrilled – this was a genuinely child-led  direction (you don’t get such sparkly eyes if it hasn’t come from them!)  After a wander on the beach, Stacey (the early years practitioner / master in play and being in the moment) asked the group what music they listened to. Seren (age 4) said ‘I want to rock’ . . . Stacey said there is a song called that and played them a (life changing) video of ‘I Wanna Rock’ by Twisted Sister. HEAVY METAL. They got so into 80s rock they branched out to Blondie, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Joan Jett, ACDC – they knew all the words and would sing to each other every day with their air guitars.

The strong favourite was the original life changing introduction Twisted Sister.

They were so intriguing, so different, so much makeup, so over the top, so wild!

I couldn’t resist . . . I was on the phone asking if Sprog Rock could come to Edinburgh and rock out with them . . . this is what we made!

We had this real sense that we need to make new music with 3 to 4 year olds. Such a great age. We proposed the idea of teaming back up with Starcatchers for this project and together made an application to the Creative Scotland and Scottish Government funded Youth Music Initiative and that has brought us here . . . to this point . . . where I am on the train writing this on my way to Kelly St Nursery in Glasgow to meet musicians Ger, Pete and Ronan (our Sprog Rock trainee) and filmmaker and photographer Jassy – and all the children they have been collaborating with. On the seat to my right are 3 kits I have made up for big wearable dinosaur heads (they have been making  a song about dinosaurs ) . . . tbc . . . 

Sprog Rock goes on tour from this Saturday 30 September at the following venues:

Beacon Arts Centre | 30 September | 11:30 & 14:30

Macrobert Arts Centre | 7 & 8 October | 11:30 & 14:30

Platform, Glasgow | 21 October | 14:00 | 22 October | 10:30

LYRA | 4 November | 12:00 & 14:30

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